Hakeem al-Araibi is a professional footballer who played for the Bahrain national team. Hakeem fled to Australia in 2014 to seek political asylum. He was granted refugee status in 2016 and is a permanent resident. Now 25 years old, he lives in Melbourne with his wife and plays football for Pascoe Vale FC.
Bahrain authorities sentenced Hakeem to 10 years in prison in absentia in 2014 for allegedly participating in the vandalism of a police station in 2012. At the time of the alleged crime, Hakeem was playing in a televised football match elsewhere. Hakeem believes his sentencing is a result of a false confession forced by torture from his brother.
On November 27 2018, he left Australia for the first time for a belated honeymoon with his wife in Thailand. Upon arrival, he was detained by Thai authorities and is currently in detention facing imminent extradition to Bahrain.
Thailand picked up Hakeem because Bahrain had issued an international request for his arrest and extradition, which takes the form of an Interpol Red Notice. But Interpol’s own rules state that legitimate refugees should be exempt from Red Notices, so the Australian authorities mistakenly notified Thai authorities of Hakeem’s pending trip. The Red Notice has since been withdrawn and foreign minister Marise Payne has requested that Thailand return Hakeem to Australia – but Thailand has so far sided with Bahrain.
If Hakeem is returned to Bahrain, he fears he will be tortured or worse.
In response to Hakeem’s detention, Professional Footballers Australia, the broader Australian football community and human rights groups, such as Amnesty International and the Gulf Institute of Human Rights and Democracy have driven a social and advocacy campaign #SaveHakeem
Subsequently, the Australian Government – through Foreign Minister Marise Payne – Football Federation Australia, FIFPro and FIFA have all called for Hakeem’s release and return to Australia.
The PFA and the broader community are now embarking on a mission to raise funds in support of:
- The ongoing legal costs associated with preserving Hakeem’s human rights;
- Coordinating a global advocacy campaign in support of Hakeem’s freedom;
- Providing ongoing support and care for Hakeem’s wife who remains in Australia, separated from her husband; and
- Hakeem’s care and rehabilitation once we win this fight to return him to Australia
Please help #SaveHakeem!